“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” -H.P. Lovecraft
In August 2017, I began my Master’s program at Eastern Kentucky University. One of my strongest memories from the beginning of my program was the first day of classes. As I walked onto campus and towards the building, I began to feel fear and anxiety creeping into my mind.
“What if I fail?”
“What if this isn’t the right path for me?”
Deep in the darkest part of my mind, I considered turning around and leaving. A part of me wanted to run away from this new experience. However, in that moment, I knew that I held the power of choice. Although I was fearful of the unknown, I had the power to decide if I were going to give this program a try or if I was going to give into my fear and go home.
In the end, I went to class and I have been doing well in my program. I enjoy the field that I have chosen to work in. With that said, we can all understand that fear is not accurate.
Fear makes us irrational.
If you have ever felt afraid, you understand the irrational thoughts that creep into your mind. Part of you understands that the scenarios running through your mind are very, very unlikely to occur, but it is difficult to stop those thoughts.
In those moments, you need to stomp out the ANTS (automatic negative thoughts). You need to find ways to ground yourself. You need to remind yourself that everything is going to work out the way it is meant to. God has a plan for your life and He is going with be with you every step of the way (Matthew 28:20). You do not have to fear facing anything alone. And although it is difficult, we truly do not have to fear the unknown. If God has the plan for our lives, why would we fear the unknown? It may be difficult because we all like to have control — we like to know step-by-step what is going to happen — but we have to simply trust in Him.
How can you tell if you are being driven by fear?
You are being driven by fear if you focus on the negative aspects about yourself or about your life. You are being driven by fear if you focus on ways in which you feel you are inadequate.
I would be lying if I told you I never experienced feelings of self-doubt. I’d also be lying if I told you that it was easy for me to push those thoughts away. However, I would be lying if I told you that I hadn’t found a way through those difficult moments. I’d be lying if I told you that things hadn’t gotten better.
The truth is that we all face self-doubts. We all think bad things about ourselves sometimes, and we definitely complain about our lives. However, we do not have to let those negative thoughts control us. When we give into that negativity, we are giving fear all of the power. And that fear has the power to alter the choices we make, and ultimately, alter our lives.
Next time you find yourself facing fearful emotions or feelings of negativity towards yourself and/or your life, stomp out the ANTS! Participate in self-care. Remind yourself that you are perfect just the way you are. Tell yourself that your mind is being irrational. Talk to a friend or a family member. And as always, pray. Never give up. It may be a bad moment in your life, but it is not a bad life. It will get better. You will make it through this difficult time. There will come a time when you look back on the dark moment you may be facing right now and you’ll thank God that you didn’t give up or give in to fear.
Remember: Fear is a liar.